Swimming with Piranhas



Arriving at La Selva Lodge


The first thing you realize when you land in the Amazonian region is the humidity. Within minutes everything you own has dampness to it. It is sticky, hot, damp, and fantastic.  My expectations were great, but the experience did not disappoint.  After landing in Coca we headed to the docks to grab our boat that would take us up the Napo River, which is a tributary of the Amazon River.  Our boat ride lasted close to three hours before we disembarked and hiked another 20 minutes through the jungle to a canoe which we rode through a lagoon for another 30 minutes before arriving at the La Selva Lodge deep in the jungle.

By the Napo River


For the next week we enjoyed hikes in the jungle, viewing wildlife from a 40M platform in a tree, canoeing the lagoon, fishing, and swimming.  Our guide Paul was fantastic, knowledgeable, and very enthusiastic.


Amy's big catch



Nick making faces with his Red Belly Piranha he caught



Highlights of our stay included fishing for piranha from the dock. An hour after swimming in the same spot!  We had night tours in a canoe and a hike. The boys were able to see a tarantula, scorpion spider, and other insects on our night hike. On the night canoe trip we came across caimans and a boa that was about to eat a bird.


Boys visiting a local school


One of our days we were taken to visit a village and a native home. In the village the boys got a chance to visit a school and see how the children’s school and classroom experience is. Some children have a 4-hour roundtrip to attend school! I can barely get Alex out of bed in the morning. At the native house our guide Paul explained and our native guide Raul demonstrated the use of the blow dart gun. The natives use this to hunt game in the jungle including monkeys. After Raul’s demonstration we got our chance to use the gun and shot darts at a piece of fruit about twenty yards away. Everybody except Amy had success hitting the target.


Clay lick at the park


The day before we took a boat ride to a part of the park where they have clay licks. This was costly due to the park fees ($60), but was worth the price. The clay licks are places where parrots and parakeets go to lick the clay, which assists in their digestion. We were able to see hundreds of parrots and parakeets congregated together. On our hike to one of the clay licks we were lucky to get a chance to see a monkey (Tamarind) that we had never seen.


Getting a lesson in the canopy


People have asked how the home schooling is going. I have to say it is a challenge at times, but we have taken a different view of how the boys will learn. For example, in the jungle our focus was on diversity and the Amazonian rainforest. We discussed birds, flora, insects, fish, culture, and other aspects of the region. Our guide was a “special teacher” to the boys and helped instruct them about the area. One of our classes took place at 40M above the forest floor up a Capoc tree.


Our accommodations were rustic but comfortable and the staff at La Selva was friendly and helpful. When I took my first shower in my cabin, after washing my hair, I looked up and was face-to-face with a huge Bonehead frog. During our visit a viper bit one of the guides. Fortunately for him they were able to get him to the hospital back in Coca in time to save his arm and life. This will illustrate how off the grid we were. When I asked our guide what would happen in case of an emergency he replied that they had never had one and it would be tough luck if they did because you couldn’t get to the hospital in time.


Blow gun after the frog incident



To wrap-up I have to share a funny story that happened to Tyler on one of our excursions. In the jungle it is almost mandatory to wear knee high rubber boots. This is to protect one from poisonous plants, bugs, snakes and whatever else is lurking about. Plus it can be pretty muddy and wet at times. Well, on the day we went to visit the clay licks we had taken the canoe and finished our hike to dock at the Napo River. On the way there Tyler kept complaining about his boots being uncomfortable and he was having trouble walking. When we arrived at the dock, which was about 45 minutes from the lodge, he finally got a chance to take off his boots. To our surprise and Tyler’s a large frog fell from his boot and hopped away. Now let me be clear this was not a tiny tree frog this was the size of a toad. I still am not sure how he hiked for 30 minutes with that in his boot!




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3 responses to “Swimming with Piranhas

  1. Mike Tiktinsky

    I have a picture from La Selva lodge to upload to you but I do not see how to do it. Just let me know. Hope the rest of the trip is going well. I see you made it to Machu Picchu. We did the 4 day 3 night hike and I have some amazing pix. Glad to share those with you at some point. We are of course back at work and in the thick of life forgetting what it was like to be on vacation.



  2. Janet Campton

    Hi! Drew and I are enjoying your posts. What an amazing trip you are having. We are looking forward to future posts. Nothing new in Woodinville. Baseball sign ups are coming up. Happy Thanksgiving.

    The Camptons

    • Hi Camptons!!
      It was great to hear from you!! We are having so much fun traveling, but we are so behind on our blog. Hopefully we will catch up while we are in New Zealand. Hope school is going well for the boys. Say hi to everyone for us…Happy Thanksgiving!!

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